Graduate Fashion Week has produced a number of stars over its 25 years, from Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, the very first Gold Award winner to Stella McCartney, Antonio Berardi, Julien MacDonald, Christopher Raeburn, Giles Deacon, Matthew Williamson, and Sophie Hulme, and this year GFW showcased a very strong line-up, so I thought I would share the womenswear designers that really stood out for me at the gala show earlier this month. We have Minnie Mouse ears, innovative monochrome tailoring, sports-luxe, duvet dresses, trompe-l’oeil and uber-bright from six very talented women.
Graduate Fashion Week: Chloe Jackson, Nottingham Trent
This was my favourite collection by a mile, Chloe Jackson really captured my attention with her edgy Minnie Mouse style, as well as her technical print ability. I was totally obsessed with not only the Minnie mouse-eared baseball hats, which FYI I so need, but also the oversized silhouettes, they were just so playful, as well as the different textures, that clear plastic and vinyl fabrics really added another dimension to the designs, and really showed off the fabulous prints. Everything about this made me smile, the styling was spot on, did you see the bands around the shoes, and the geeky glasses? I really hope someone snaps up this collection as I need the hat, bag, and skirt.
Graduate Fashion Week: Hazel Symons, De Montfort University
It must be so hard to judge at Graduate Fashion Week the standard is always strong but De Montfort graduate Hazel Symons totally deserved her Christopher Bailey Gold Award win for her inventive, monochrome tailored pieces, which were screwed together rather than sewn. If her collection didn’t make an impact, her portfolio certainly would have done, I love her IKEA-esque illustrated instructions, showing how to put the designs together as each one comes flatpacked. Not only did this collection stand out it was innovative and different, while still being commercial – for me, the kilt was the highlight.
Graduate Fashion Week: Abby Johnson, Bath Spa University
One of most commercial collections had to be Abby Johnson’s, and when I say commercial I don’t say that in a bad way, I actually think more fashion graduates need to think about who and where they are going to sell their designs. This sporty-cool collection was just perfection, I could see some of the embellished pieces hitting the shops right now, especially the bedazzled jeans. I also love that she made sporty feminine with the sheer lace trousers, and blouse. For me the highlight was definitely the jeans, love them, and the grey cropped ‘Johnson’ jumper. This girl knows good branding – did you see the trainers? Love it, and want to wear it all.
Graduate Fashion Week: Ramlah Wraich, UCA Epsom
Ramlah Wraich’s collection was probably one of the most Instagrammed collections as it really made an impact on the catwalk, it was more than just clothes, she brought drama and a story, as at the end all her models sat together like one giant colourful beanbag. Inspired by Argentine sculptor Marta Minujin’s work, her candy-striped designs were part clothing-part interiors, with the duvet coat looking good enough to fall asleep in. I also loved how her padded designs created extreme proportions that changed the shape of the models, with padding added around the hips and waist.
Graduate Fashion Week: Quivvei Jiang of UCA Epsom
There’s always one slightly left-field collection that makes an impact and that had to be Quivvei Jiang’s surreal collection of trompe-l’oeil 20s flappers pieces. Quivvei won the M&S Womenswear Award with director of womenswear for the brand, Jo Jenkins saying that her collection demonstrated “real ‘outside of the box’ thinking”. I am seriously fascinated by this optical illusion collection, the technical skill of the pattern cutting and attention to detail is insane.
Graduate Fashion Week: Holly Borg, De Montfort University
Couldn’t end a best off without a seriously uber-bright collection. Holly Borg brought the colour to the catwalk with her collection inspired by the idea of embracing chaos. I loved the energy of this collection, it really made a statement with those strong masculine silhouettes that just look like they’ve been scribbled all over in feminine colours. It’s also technically strong as each piece is entirely printed using her scribbles. I’m obsessed with the oversized pink jacket.